I'm sure there was a stick of butter in my dinner, all told, and I didn't notice a drop. Perhaps therein lies the key to how a chef brings such delightful and aromatic flavors to the fore, refining them and releasing of them on their carpet of fat. (g)
After much sturm und drang, the Commodore and I chose the White Horse Tavern for our Thanksgiving meal...Their prix fixe of $58 sounded reasonable, and many on these boards had attested to their enjoyable cuisine...And butter poached lobster was one of the choices! Well, you really didn't have to tell me twice...Though, to be honest, I was looking longingly at the more creative menus I had seen during the prolonged search....
Newport locals knows that White Horse Tavern is the oldest continually operating tavern in the US, built in 1672, but we diidn't...It was totally charming, with low, beamed ceilings, plastered with what looked like wattle and daub,(I'm sure many iterations ago), big fireplaces, narrow stairways, and lit by candlelight and lanterns...We had big grins immediately.
WHT srves a new American menu, concentrating on local and seasonal foods...I was a little let-down when I saw some of the mundane offerings, and really bummed when I saw my butter poached lobster was served on a bed of feiulle pastry...I think not! Give me the lobster, please, hold the cardboard....But of course, I was proven incorrect.
I had the Oysters Rockefeller for an appetizer. Any oyster is a good oyster, but I do hate glop on a fine piece of bi-valve. No worry here. The spinach and creamy cheese were heaped on one end of each shell, the oyster on the other, letting the diner mix at will, and not sullying that glorious shellfish. Four of them, BTW, lightly cooked, I might add...TC had pumpkin ravioli, with three sauces...I liked two of them, but the third, a slightly sweet reduction with candied citron, was a bit sweet...He was clearly in heaven, however.
The lobster...Ah, the lobster. I was so disappointed to hear about the pastry, but I ordered it anyway...Butter poached lobster is usually not on the menus of the ethnic dives I frequent....The tail and claws were perkily displayed on a square of mille feuille.
But such leaves these were; each bite did not crunch, but melted on my tongue, belying the question of where the butter ended, and the flour began. Though I had removed said lobster from said pastry upon arrival, I quickly reunited them, so that each bite would compilment the next. And surrounding it, a bed of orzo, flavored with truffle oil...Folks, it doesn't get better than lobster and truffle oil...Not to mention the carrots braised in a red wine reduction, and the cabbage in some kind of vinaigrette...
TC had the individuallly sized Beef Wellington. He bowed his head and gave thanks for Napoleon's defeat with every bite...I was so busy, I didn't harangue him for details of the pastry, or the foie gras, but the medium rare he specified came through, which seemed amazing to me, given the cloaking of pastry, which he assured me was divine...I can't even remember what his sides were, Iwas a little swoony at this point.....
Dessert for him was "Their famous bread pudding" cooked in a timpano, to my mind...Thick, solid, moist, sweet...I don't eat dessert, but had ordered the lavender-infused creme bruleee for him...
HONK!!!!!!!! YOU LOSE!!!!!! He never got more than a bite...This wasn't a dessert that tasted like perfume, this was a light, creamy mouthful that dissolved on contact, but tasted the same intoxicating way that lavender smells. Lavender is my all-time favorite scent...When I cracked that reddish-purple crust, and the first bite melted on my tongue, I was a goner....
White Horse Tavern is justly renowned for its extensive wine-list (on all those foofy Wine Spectator lists), but to be honest, we only ordered a few selections by the glass...The wine list was so extensive, and so out of my league, that I was really surprised to find a number of choices by the glass that weren't intimidating, or intimidatingly priced...I happily drank my grapefruit-scented New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and delighted in my chance to not let a heavier selection interfere with these delicate flavors.
As we snuggled down for the night, when digestion was well underway, TC said, "Well, Leslie, you really outdid yourself this time".
"Yeah, I slaved over a hot keyboard for days for this meal".
"No, you found it. This was the best meal I've ever eaten".
To all the hounds who recommended it, my thanks...Same time next year!
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